News & Insights

November 11, 2020

Join our SARs Webinar: ‘When more isn’t enough’ | 30th November, 9-10am GMT | 10-11am CET

Hear Ian Mynot Head of UK Financial Intelligence Unit, National Crime Agency (NCA) and Ivich Hoffman, Product Owner Connect, Detecting Financial Crime – Innovation and Design, ABM AMRO N.V. – one of the five Dutch banks that are founders of Transaction Monitoring Netherlands (TMNL) to our discussion with Andy McDonald, EFI’s Financial Crime and Risk Adviser, Jayne Newton, EFI Director of Regulatory Expertise and Jeff Bateman, EFI Director of Operations.

In addition to getting up to date with NCA developments, we will also be discussing what a group of five Dutch banks are doing to collectively combat money laundering and terrorist financing known as the Transaction Monitoring Netherlands (TMNL) initiative. In addition, we will be sharing some practical insights on how to improve the quality and process around SARs.

October 2, 2020

Read our response to EBA’s consultation to the proposed changes to the Risk Factor Guidelines

We consider and assess the proposed changes to the EBA’s Risk Factor Guidelines and provide guidance on how organisations should best reflect and operationalise these changes in their AML/CFT procedures and processes.

In this paper we provide recommendations and insightful commentary on:

  • Risk assessment and risk appetite
  • Ongoing Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) and tax “triggers”
  • The approach to registers in relation to Beneficial Owners and Controllers
  • Golden visa schemes
  • High Risk Third Countries (“HRTCs”) and jurisdictional links
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

August 20, 2020

Transaction Monitoring and Governance: A Cautionary Tale

  • The recently proposed amendments to the European Banking Authority’s guidelines on internal governance, make it clear that Boards and their oversight bodies are accountable for ensuring the effectiveness of their controls in detecting and preventing financial crime. This means that firms’ directors and senior executive teams need to be AML/CFT literate, tech-savvy and have a clear understanding about the information they need in order to decide whether the firm’s AML/CFT compliance programme is working as intended.
  • These days, Boards are increasingly expected to demonstrate to both regulators and their shareholders their grasp of financial crime risks and how the firm addresses them. They need to demonstrate to AML/CFT supervisors that they acted at the earliest opportunity when the firm’s AML/CFT programmes are not working as expected. This is especially the case when it comes to TM controls. A decision in 2020 provides a helpful illustration of what can happen when the governance around AML/CFT controls fail.

August 13, 2020

Source of Wealth and Source of Funds: The Enduring KYC Challenge

  • Establishing a customer’s SOW and SOF is not an easy task. For years, firms have been asking for a steer from national regulators as to what they are expecting to see firms do to satisfy these KYC and ongoing Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) requirements.
  • Recently, two publications were released with the aim of providing that much sought-after guidance about SOW and SOF. The first is the Wolfsberg Group’s FAQ guidance (“Guidance”), targeted predominantly at bank’s private banking/wealth management customer segments.
  • The second is a report on the results of a thematic review (“Report”) on how firms actually undertake SOW and SOF KYC and CDD, published by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (“GFSC”).
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

August 5, 2020

Registers, Transparency and Beneficial Ownership

  • Recently in the news, an article was published announcing that a number of jurisdictions, including Bermuda, have announced that they were setting up public registers on which the ownership of legal entities would be maintained (“UBO Registers”).
  • Despite all the criticism levelled by financial crime prevention critics about how long this has taken (who tend to be a more “glass half empty” bunch anyways), I’m slightly more optimistic over the progress worldwide that’s been made over the last two years when it comes to ownership transparency.

July 28, 2020

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter: JRR Tolkien “Golden Visas” and Financial Crime Detection

It’s hard to believe that it was more than two years ago that the final version of the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) was published in the Official Gazette in the European Union.

  • Annex III to the 4AMLD provides a non-exhaustive list of factors and types of evidence of potentially higher risk factors, references in Article 18(3) (Enhanced Due Diligence or “EDD”). The 5AMLD amended this list to add a new customer risk factor.
  • (g) customer is a third country national who applies for residence rights or citizenship in the Member State in exchange of capital transfers, purchase of property or government bonds, or investment in corporate entities in that Member State. (“golden visas”).
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

July 8, 2020

EFI’s Whitepaper

  • Read our latest whitepaper on how, using a winning combination of EFI’s tax and technology expertise, a solution was developed for a client that streamlined their Internal Revenue Service W-Series Tax form process whilst achieving compliance.

June 30, 2020

KYC Reviews: The Dragon of AML Compliance Programmes

he most common area of AML/CFT compliance programmes that organisations struggle with are in relation to KYC reviews, refresh and subsequent remediation work needed to update or patch up existing customer KYC information.

The Jersey Financial Service Commission (“JFSC”) published feedback from its examination of firms required to comply with local AML/CFT regulations. Findings in relation to KYC reviews included:

  • In over half of the firms who used reviews to keep their customer KYC up to date, these were triggered on a calendar basis or by a trigger event procedure.
  • Instances were observed where these anniversaries or events triggered a review, but then information was not updated, or the review was started but not completed.

A recent case dealt with by the JFSC provides an excellent illustration of the challenges that KYC reviews present and what can go wrong when they’re not effectively undertaken.

  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

June 25, 2020

EFI’s webinar: Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves

Hear our panel of experts discuss how the revised Risk Factor Guidelines will have an impact on financial crime prevention operations in Europe.

  • Key changes proposed under the European Banking Authority’s (“EBA”) revised Anti Money Laundering/ Combating the Finance of Terrorism (“AML/CFT”) guidance.
  • The potential impact on existing compliance operations.
  • Incorporation of new tax KYC requirements (FATCA/CRS) and the integration into existing AML and Know Your Customer (“KYC”) reviews.
  • The knock-on effect related to AML/KYC and internal tax investigations.
  • Consequences of failing to take action and the impact on your organisation.

June 19, 2020

EFI’s W-Series tool


  • Watch a demo of EFI’s W-Series tool, developed to help improve the way our clients and their customers complete W-Series tax forms.

June 19, 2020

A typical customer journey when completing IRS W-Series tax forms


  • Learn about the user tax form filling and validating journey and the operational issues organisations face internally when managing this process.

June 19, 2020

How to achieve a more efficient and streamlined IRS W-Series forms process


  • Learn about the key things to consider when looking to achieve a more efficient tax form filling and validating process.

June 19, 2020

EFI’S IRS W-Series Case Study


See how we have improved the tax form filling and validating process for our clients.

Customers need to complete the appropriate IRS W-Series form if they are investing in U.S. assets.

  • There are many rules related to the tax forms, and it is easy to get confused
  • The language is complex and often refers to terms most of us have never heard before
  • Not every section of the form applies to an individual
  • TThe form does not provide any form of data validation

Wouldn’t you want to streamline your tax form filling and validating process, to reduce your operational costs and make your customers’ journey smoother at the same time?

Read how we designed and built an online tool to capture the information required for the IRS W-Series forms.

June 11, 2020

Acting on adverse media: A tightrope walk for AML/CFT regulated businesses


  • For several years now, businesses required to comply with Anti Money Laundering/ Combating the Finance of Terrorism (“AML/CFT”) regulations have been trying to find ways in which to monitor the media and other sources of information in an attempt to identify whether any of their customers has “broken bad” ( Apologies Jesse Pinkman). It’s also proven to be an essential element of mitigating reputation risk, scanning the media horizon for information that might prove detrimental to a business’s share value and corporate image.
  • Financial crime regulators have long expected regulated businesses to incorporate adverse media checks into as part of their KYC processes. But deciding what types of media to base those checks on is becoming ever more complicated.
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

EFI and the Broker Club Webinar

In partnership with The Broker Club, EFI’s Tax and Financial Crime Prevention SME’s discuss tax compliance obligations under the main regulatory regimes in relation to customers and how their requirements to conduct due diligence or tax KYC apply to brokers.

EFI & Lysis Webinar: “It was a gift from my mother…”

In partnership with Lysis Group, EFI’s Tax and Financial Crime Prevention SME’s discuss the Panama Papers case, in order to understand the practical implications and lessons learned for AML compliance professionals.


April 16, 2020

Life after lockdown: A 4 step checklist to a more efficient remediation


  • It may seem early to start thinking about life after lockdown but having a plan for how you are going to address any compliance requirements that have built up will give you more of a sense of control while we are still in the thick of it.

March 25, 2020

Captivated Audience Podcast Series

This podcast was inspired by the evolving Covid-19 restrictions and how it has impacted compliance professionals working in financial crime prevention. Reaching out to individuals across the globe, EFI’s Samantha Sheen and Marie Lundberg look at how people are adjusting to remote working from home while still keeping up efforts to detect, prevent and disrupt financial crime. The topics covered range from governance, KYC, transaction monitoring to cyber security and accountability. Taking a plain speaking approach, Marie and Sam analyse notable cases involving financial crime, epic “compliance fails” and lessons learnt along the way. And to help fellow compliance professionals keep on top of their CPD, case studies with illustrative slides are also included.

  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

March 17, 2020

Anticipating the Unanticipated: AML Controls and Workplace Disruption


  • It’s been my experience that one of the first things to go when there’s an adverse business event, are compliance reviews. Whether they’re scheduled KYC or tax reviews, 2nd line assurance checks or scheduled audits, the absence of key personnel, and the limited availability of supervisors (who
    are fighting fires elsewhere), means that these activities are often postponed
  • The current crisis is also distracting for many staff who are concerned for their own and their family’s well-being. A small number of them may also be less inclined to submit SARs while working remotely, especially when they can’t access their line manager or AML compliance representative for further guidance.
  • Similar to our amazing health care professionals, law enforcement agencies are still working. That includes the investigation of financial crime. FIs will need to ensure that they are resourced to respond to enquiries in relation to financial crime-related matters and other requests for information.

January 27, 2020

Money laundering and terrorist financing amended regulations


  • Art market participants, letting agents and crypto exchange and wallet providers (VASPs) are the latest new members of the family of entities now required to comply with the MLRs here in the UK.
  • A small but significant change was made to Regulation 19 – policies, Procedures and Controls. Regulation 19(4) requires that appropriate measures are taken before and during the adoption of new technology to assess and mitigate any associated AML or TF risks.
  • There have been cases where a third party acting as agent for a financial institution, has ended up exposing a financial institution to financial crime risks.
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

January 14, 2020

New KYC and Registry Notification Requirements: Are you Ready?


  • Following on from EFI’s response to the Companies House consultation in August 2020, new requirements have been introduced setting out the requirements for checking registry information in relation to legal entities, their owners and controllers.
  • The new requirements mean that entities regulated by the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations will have to incorporate registry records verification and retention of this information as part of their KYC processes.
  • Mandatory discrepancy notification requirements will also add an additional regulatory obligation that financial institutions will need to operationalise and consider how to treat those customers whose existing CDD is inconsistent with information found on the Companies House Registry.

January 15, 2020

Psychics, Cages and Scammers


  • By now most of us have heard about scams designed to take advantage of vulnerable customers, manipulating them to part with their hard-earned savings. Some of these involve marriage proposals, requests for emergency funds or donations to bogus charities. All of these are collectively referred to as social engineering scams (“Scams”).
  • From a CDD perspective, what I find most striking in this case is the risk management tactics used by the scammers and CanadaCo to avoid detection, maintain cash flows and create the illusion of ordinary business activity.
  • Not only did they think ahead and plot out ways in which to muddy the trail of their mailing activities, they monitored account activity and re-assessed the risks that some types of customers might pose to the Scam’s longevity.
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

October 30, 2019

DAC 6 and the D Hallmarks


  • HMRC’s consultation period for DAC 6 ended on 11 October. Professional service providers, including EFI, and leading UK bodies representing the financial services industry have responded to the consultation.
  • Due to the short timeframes until the reporting regime commences in 2020 and to achieve compliance within the provisions of DAC 6, Promoters, Service Providers and Intermediaries affected need to assess the business impact of this legislation
  • It is understood that many Financial Institutions (“FIs”) are adopting a “wait and see” approach until the publication of HMRC guidance. This is in the hope that they will be considered Service Providers and not Intermediaries.

September 24, 2019

EFI – Northern Powerhouse Announcement


  • EFI, which partners with large corporate and retail banking clients across the UK and Europe to deliver financial crime prevention and efficient operational support, has been accepted as a member of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse Partnership Programme. Demonstrating its commitment to promoting the strengths of the North and supporting the Northern economy and Northern Powerhouse initiative.
  • Since launching in 2017, EFI has grown substantially, with a presence in both the UK and mainland Europe, the majority of EFI’s team will now be based in Leeds. EFI is planning to invest in growth further, recruiting up to 50 additional staff, in order to fulfil its ambition of becoming an industry leader in the Managed Services Operations sector, and a robust Northern Powerhouse Partner.
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

August 6, 2019

Corporate Transparency and Register Reform


  • The Companies House registry (Register) is an important source of information referred to by EFI and its customers in the undertaking of KYC and CDD. This information is vital for agencies such as HM Revenue & Customs and the Serious Fraud Office when they investigate financial crime cases that involve the misuse of corporate structures.
  • Detecting and preventing financial crime therefore relies upon the ability to undertake timely enquiries about companies and individuals associated with them, with confidence that the information found is accurate and complete.
  • EFI welcomes Companies House’s commitment in working to seek ways to strengthen the UK’s ability to fight economic crime. The following comments are in response to some of consultation’s questions.

July 24, 2019

Whitepaper – The End of the beginning for FATCA and CRS


  • Governments globally have been clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion for some years by introducing various international tax transparency measures to detect and deter such activity.
  • FIs are continually challenged by a huge and ever-changing regulatory environment, compounded by significant levels of uncertainty in the assessment of compliance by a whole raft of different tax authorities.
  • In September 2017, under FATCA and CRS, the largest ever exchange of tax information took place between Revenue Authorities globally.
  • Sam Sheen
    Sam Sheen Financial Crime Adviser

July 17, 2019

The Case of the Disappearing Bank


  • For several years now, anti-financial crime (AFC) regulations have prohibited the operation of shell banks. A shell bank is a bank that has no physical presence in the jurisdiction where it is incorporated or licensed and no affiliation with a regulated financial group.
  • A trust does not have a “legal personality”. This means it cannot legally own assets. A trust can’t open its own bank account, execute contracts or become a shareholder in a company.
  • The TCSP acts as trustee for the Manolo Trust. Not a great deal of information is provided about how the trust came to be created.

This article has been featured on the International Banker

September 26, 2018

Jail time looms for FATCA Responsible Officer


  • After witnessing the first ever successful US prosecution for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) non-compliance, banks and Financial Institutions (FIs) will be thinking ‘What next?’ and considering their own FATCA programmes.
  • Events last week only serve to confirm that FIs are under the microscope. Organisations and individuals will be taken to task for non-compliance or deliberate avoidance.
  • The high level of international collaboration between a large number of cross-border agencies (including the City of London police and the FCA) is of particular note. International cooperation and effort will seamlessly result in successful prosecutions.

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